Women in U.S. government are leading us in important directions. Women rose to positions of real power. And people are becoming more accustomed to – and familiar with – women as leaders, incoming House Speaker, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.,) for example. The Raw Story reports that people are feeling more favorable towards Pelosi as time passes.
Obama had some kind words for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the powerful New York senator, who tops every national poll of likely Democratic candidates. He called her smart and tough.
“I’m not one of these people who thinks she can’t win,” he told reporters at a news conference after the charity event.
He said he understood why the media kept asking about whether he and Clinton would square off in a primary: It’s “fun” to set up those scenarios, he said.
Women were recently elected across the nation and by their peers. In addition to Speaker Pelosi, Governor Kathleen Sebelius will chair the Dem’s Governors Association next year, according to the Washington Post. To quote from the article,
She would replace New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is considering a run for president in 2008.
Next year, the Democrats will hold a majority of the country’s governorships for the first time in 12 years.
. . . The Democrats also picked up governor’s seats in Ohio, Arkansas, Colorado and Maryland, and they will control 28 states in January. The Democrats’ success in governor’s races was mirrored in state legislatures, where they picked up nine chambers.
. . . Sebelius was elected in 2002 and has been credited with cutting government waste. At the DGA, she has worked on ethanol and education issues.
Women achieved prominent roles at NASA, as team leaders and administrative planners for going to the moon again – Yesterday NASA unveiled space program plans for the next few years, called the “Global Exploration Strategy and Lunar Architicture.” Leading the effort is one of NASA’s female leaders, Shana Dale. To quote from NASA’s news release,
NASA on Monday unveiled the initial elements of the Global Exploration Strategy and a proposed U.S. lunar architecture, two critical tools for achieving the nation’s vision of returning humans to the moon.
NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale, who is guiding the long-term strategy development effort among 14 of the world’s space agencies, said, “This strategy will enable interested nations to leverage their capabilities and financial and technical contributions, making optimum use of globally available knowledge and resources to help energize a coordinated effort that will propel us into this new age of discovery and exploration.”
Women and men questioned the war in Iraq – Two women in the U.S. House of Representatives proved prescient about the war in Iraq, voting against the authorizing resolution 4 years ago. Walter Pincus, Washington Post Staff Writer, wrote on December 4, that,
Although given little public credit at the time, or since, many of the 126 House Democrats who spoke out and voted against the October 2002 resolution that gave President Bush authority to wage war against Iraq have turned out to be correct in their warnings about the problems a war would create.
. . . Rep. David R. Obey (Wis.), who will chair the Appropriations Committee, . . recalled recently that an amendment by Rep. Barbara T. Lee (D-Calif.) that would have delayed taking action until inspectors from the United Nations completed their work “made sense, but there was no prayer it would pass.” It got 72 votes.
. . . On the House floor more than four years ago, Lee told colleagues: “Our own intelligence agencies report that there is currently little chance of chemical and biological attack from Saddam Hussein on U.S. forces or territories. But they emphasize that an attack could become much more likely if Iraq believes that it is about to be attacked.” . . . Lee also raised questions in the floor debate that remain unanswered. “What is our objective here,” she asked four years ago, “regime change or elimination of weapons of mass destruction?”
. . . Looking forward now to next year and a Democratic majority in the House, Lee said, “Those of us who early on understood have many ideas of what to do now and how to get out of Iraq.”
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), . . . was among the lawmakers who talked on the House floor about what turned out to be the real issues in Iraq. She spoke of the “postwar challenges,” saying that “there is no history of democratic government in Iraq,” that its “economy and infrastructure is in ruins after years of war and sanctions” and that rebuilding would take “a great deal of money.”
. . . Baldwin said recently that she put together her statement after reading public commentary and talking with like-minded colleagues and her staff about what would come next. “A vote like this, I didn’t undertake lightly — I almost fully expected they would find weapons there,” she said. “But we hadn’t heard about an exit strategy; it was such a blank.”
Women are opinion makers. Favorite bloggers include women who have very wide followings such as those at Firedoglake, Jane Hamsher, Christy Hardin Smith and Siun; and Arianna Huffington at The Huffington Post. Clearly, however, there are still too few, as I opined in posts at S/Sw on 7/27/06 and 7/28/06.
Unfortunately, women in Afghanistan are not in similar positions. There is an incredible contrast between the articles above and the following piece. As well as being halfway around the world, the differences seem centuries wide. Here is the story from the WaPo:
A Precarious Shelter in Afghanistan – New Refuges for Women Face Permanent Danger of Attack, By Pamela Constable, Washington Post Foreign ServiceTuesday, December 5, 2006
. . . Until recently, most of the 20 women at the shelter would probably have been either dead or in prison, hunted down by male relatives seeking revenge or hit with criminal charges for actions that would not be illegal in the West, such as eloping with a boyfriend or fleeing an abusive husband. Some might have committed suicide by burning themselves, as hundreds of desperate Afghan girls and women have done in the past several years.
Afghan society still considers such women “bad” and deserving of punishment. According to the country’s conservative Muslim and tribal traditions, arranged marriages are both a cultural cornerstone and a business contract, sometimes with two sisters marrying two brothers. Wives are expected to endure beatings, unfaithfulness or years of separation in obedient silence.
But Afghanistan is also officially a democracy now, with a ministry of women’s affairs, human rights organizations and constitutional protections against abuse. In the years since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, a network of civic groups has begun promoting women’s legal rights and opening shelters.
. . . The most formidable obstacle to change, advocates said, is the power of gossip and shame. An Afghan woman’s reputation can be destroyed for life if she simply decides to insist on her right to choose, whether that means rejecting an unattractive groom or refusing to endure daily beatings by a drunken husband.
Many Americans agree that the war in Afghanistan was justified. We, of course, did not go there to liberate downtrodden women. We invaded the country to fight back at Al Quaeda after the 9/11/01 World Trade Center attacks. Almost immediately it became apparent that it was not that simple. However, the more complex effort should have remained focused in Afghanistan. Most unfortunately, the current administration got distracted and lost the way by invading Iraq. I often wonder what would have happened had a woman been in the lead. Incidentally, does anyone know if there are any authentic female neocons? I am not sure about Secretary Rice.